Injury likely kills Howard’s 2012 value

When the Phillies’ season ended last night, so too did any hope of another powerful season from first baseman Ryan Howard in 2012. Howard will have an MRI today to determine the extent of the damage, but Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki had this to report:

 – Ryan Howard said the training staff thinks he tore his Achilles. He’ll know more after a MRI. Not good (Twitter link)

Then, injury expert and Sports Illustrated writer, Will Carroll, wrote this in response to the question of how long Howard would be out if the news was as bad as expected:

 –  9-12 months. (Twitter link)

If that estimation holds true, then July of 2012 will be the earliest we see Howard back on a baseball field and there is a possibility he doesn’t return at all. For fantasy owners in keeper leagues, this basically makes Howard unkeepable, unless you have plenty of room on your DL and the means to stash him there before the season starts. Even if that were the case, I’d be very skeptical in any projection that calls for a return to form for the big man. The injury is to Howard’s left Achilles, an area which had been hurting Howard in August and September of the regular season. He also suffered a sprain to his left ankle in August of 2010. That’s a lot of damage to the left ankle of the big-bodied slugger.The threat of another ankle injury, even after recovery, also looms. Here’s surgery, recovery and re-injury data from

  • Both open and percutaneous surgeries are successful. More than 80 out of 100 people who have surgery for an Achilles tendon rupture are able to return to all the activities they did before the injury, including returning to sports.1
  • Although percutaneous surgery has traditionally been viewed as having higher rerupture rates than open surgery, studies now show that the rerupture rates are similar. About 5 out of 100 people who have surgery for an Achilles tendon rupture will rerupture after surgery.2
  • Open surgery is more likely than percutaneous surgery to result in wound healing problems. But damage to a nerve is more likely with percutaneous surgery. Newer techniques for percutaneous surgery may make nerve damage less likely than when older techniques are used.
Howard will be 32 years old on opening day 2012 and his body-type suggests that an early regression is very possible. We’ll have to wait and see what reports surface as to the severity of Howard’s injury, but as of now it looks like he’ll be someone to avoid on draft day 2012 and someone to drop in keeper leagues.